Why [Human] Voice Matters

The spoken word will always reign as king of communication

I recently talked with a pastor who opted out of social media. Entirely. If he wanted to connect with someone, he picked up the phone.

“That seems anachronistic,” I said.

“No—that’s how I connect,” he said. “I talk with people.”

And then I realized: Yes! The sound of the human voice will never go away entirely. People may joke about removing the phone app from their phone, but that remains a joke. There’s something about the human voice that demands a response and always will.

The human voice has a directness that goes beyond any technology, whether text or tweets or simple words on a piece of paper or images scattered on a cave wall. When our advertisements don’t get through, when our emails fall short, when our Facebook message goes unanswered, we stand in front of someone and ask our question.

The human voice will always reign as king of communication–it says, “I’m here. I’m present.”

Write like you talk

Students in my freelance writing classes at Northwestern College wander the web with ease, but they loathe picking up the phone to talk with people about potential job prospects. Marketing yourself is, perhaps, a pitfall with pursuing freelance writing. But maybe the pitfall itself can show the way forward.

As copywriters, we try to use the human voice. We mimic it by writing conversationally. With short sentences. We try to “sound” like the voice—“sound” because the sound is in a reader’s head (so—not really a sound). The more our writing sounds like the human voice, the more invisible it becomes—with the goal of messages that get into one’s mind without someone remembering they just read something. Kind of like how you drive to work every day.

Unconvinced? Take a peek at GEICO’s “Better Together with the Gecko” ad. GEICO effectively uses family-friendly humor, cultural relevance, and a charismatic character to capture the hearts of audiences worldwide. Why do we relate to a talking cartoon animal? The essence of his charisma is the stark contrast of his (very) human voice with his physical presence. He’s like a thoughtful and understated yet funny friend in an adorable little lizard body (the large eyes help). One of the reasons the talking gecko has been in commercials for decades is that he uses a human voice.           

Moral: “Write like you talk” is good advice. And not easy to achieve.

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